Published: Feb 16, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Feb 16, 2013 04:39 PM
CARRBORO - Only one candidate will be on the ballot for Carrboro’s first, and maybe last, special election.
Damon Seils is running unopposed for Dan Coleman’s vacated seat on the Board of Aldermen. The filing period ended Friday.
Seils is the first vice-chairman of the Carrboro Planning Board and works as a health services researcher at Duke University.
The Board of Aldermen voted to hold a special election on March 19 to fill the seat, rather than wait until November when the municipal elections will be held.
Coleman resigned from the board at the end of last year to move with his family to Melbourne, Australia, where his wife accepted a teaching position at Monash University. His term runs through December 2015.
He was appointed to the board in 2006 when then Alderman Mark Chilton was elected mayor. Twelve people applied to fill the vacancy and the board picked Coleman after deadlocking between him and law professor Lydia Lavelle, who would go on to win election in 2007.
After Coleman’s appointment, the board voted in 2007 to amend the town charter to fill future board vacancies through a special election if there is a year or more left on the departing member’s term.
Coleman’s vacancy is the first time the charter amendment will be used.
Chilton said after this he wants the town to fill vacancies by appointment, like it did before.
“To me, it seems kind of wasteful, regardless of how many candidates are running,” he said.
“The board requested it several years ago when Dan Coleman was appointed to the board because people wanted to see vacancies filled through a more democratic process,” Chilton said. “But now that we see cost of it, we are wondering if it really makes sense.”
After evaluating the special election costs, the board agreed to seek another charter change allowing the aldermen to fill vacancies by either special election or appointment. The change, drafted by Town Attorney Mike Brough, will be submitted to the N.C. General Assembly.
Alderman Sammy Slade said he isn’t worried about residents calling for an election process to fill vacancies if there is another controversial appointment to the board.
“If someone wants to say the appointment process is not a democratic one, where were they this time around?”